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Cardiff University research shortlisted for top medical prize

22 January 2010

Leading Cardiff University research which is helping to reduce unnecessary prescribing of antibiotics has been shortlisted for a major medical prize.

Professors Christopher Butler and Kerenza Hood of Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, together with their collaborators from Maastricht University in the Netherlands, are only one of four groups world-wide to have been shortlisted for the prestigious BMJ Group Awards – Research Paper of the Year2009.

Their research paper, published in the BMJ in May, is part of a wider programme of research examining innovative ways of reducing unnecessary antibiotic prescribing.

Their study gained particular praise for its evaluation of the benefits of two separate kinds of intervention. It found that GPs in primary care who underwent training in advanced communications skills and who made use of a simple blood test prescribed fewer antibiotics for lower respiratory tract infections, without delaying recovery, increasing complications, or reducing satisfaction with care.

Professor Christopher Butler from Cardiff University’s Department of Primary Care and Public Health said: "As the problem of bacteria resistant to antibiotic treatment grows, researchers from around the world are seeking ways to improve the quality of antibiotic prescribing.

"Prescribing antibiotics only when patients will clearly benefit, reduces the pressure that drives antibiotic resistance. Our clinical trial therefore sought to evaluate ways antibiotic prescribing could be reduced without adversely affecting patient recovery or satisfaction with care – we are therefore delighted that our research has been recognised by the BMJ in this way."

The BMJ Group Annual Awards are designed to recognise individuals, organisations and initiatives that have demonstrated outstanding and measurable contributions to health.

The paper is the only one involving UK researchers to be shortlisted from more than 700 nominations from around the world in the category of original clinical research that has contributed to improving health and healthcare.

Professor Kerenza Hood, who is also Director of the South East Wales Trials Unit said, "The results of our study showed that 54% of GPs practising according to usual care prescribed antibiotics, whereas 27% of those who had been trained in the advanced communication and 31% of the GPs who used the blood test methods did so. Only 23% of GPs who were trained in the advanced communication skills and who used the blood test prescribed antibiotics.

"Most importantly, the results showed that prescribing fewer antibiotics did not mean that patients were unwell for longer. Patients’ recovery and satisfaction with care were not compromised by GPs not prescribing their patient antibiotics."

The winners of the 2009 BMJ Group Awards will be announced at a ceremony in London on the 10th March.

1. Jochen W L Cals, Christopher C Butler, Rogier M Hopstaken, Kerenza Hood, Geert-Jan Dinant - Effect of point of care testing for C reactive protein and training in communication skills on antibiotic use in lower respiratory tract infections: cluster randomised trial was published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), 2009; 338:b1374

A full copy of the paper is available here

Additional information is also available at: The South East Wales Trials Unit (SEWTU) helped design and analyse the trial. The study of common infections is a major theme for SEWTU, and it is implementing several trials and observational studies in this area.

2. School of Medicine

Cardiff University’s School of Medicine is a significant contributor to healthcare in Wales, a major provider of professional staff for the National Health Service and an international centre of excellence for research, delivering substantial health benefits locally and internationally. The school’s 800 staff include 500 research and academic staff who teach more than 2,000 students, including 1,110 postgraduate students.

The School is based at the Heath Park Campus, a site it shares with the University Hospital of Wales, the third largest university hospital in the UK. The School has an all-Wales role, contributing greatly to promoting, enhancing and protecting the nation’s health.

A key partner in this role is the National Health Service (NHS) in Wales, with which the School is linked at all levels. This mutual dependency is illustrated by the teaching of medical undergraduates in more than 150 hospitals located in all of Wales’ health authorities. The medical curriculum followed at the School enables students to acquire and apply knowledge, skills, judgement and attitudes appropriate to delivering a high standard of professional care. Around 300 new doctors currently graduate from the School every year and the Welsh Assembly Government has invested substantially in new teaching facilities to increase this number further

3. Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Professor Sir Martin Evans.

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning.

Visit the University website at:

Dr Christopher C Butler

Professor of Primary Care Medicine, Cardiff University

Head of Department of Primary Care and Public Health

Cardiff University

Tel: 029 2068 7168


Chris Jones

Communications & International Relations Division

Cardiff University

Tel: 029 20 874731